AMCC News

Fisheries Policy Update: Summer 2017

It’s hard for many of us to keep up on what’s happening on the policy front during the long, busy days of summer. Fortunately, our fisheries policy guru Shannon Carroll has the latest on the Young Fishermen’s Development Act from D.C. and key takeaways from June’s North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting.

Young Fishermen’s Development Act

AMCC is extremely appreciative of Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for cosponsoring the Young Fishermen’s Development Act, a bipartisan and bicoastal bill that would give fishing communities a needed boost by addressing steep and growing obstacles facing the next generation of America’s commercial fishermen. The Senate legislation, which aligns closely with a House version introduced in April by U.S. Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA), would launch the first coordinated, nationwide effort to train, educate and assist the next generation of commercial fishermen, providing grants of up to $200,000 (totaling $2 million annually) through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program. The introduction of the legislation in both the House and Senate clearly reflects the Alaska delegation’s commitment to improving access to our state’s fisheries.

While we are grateful for the introduction of the bill, it is essential that we continue to build support for this important piece of legislation. 

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The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) met in Juneau this past month, and as always, the June meeting was busy.

Abundance-based management for Bering Sea halibut bycatch

The Council made tangible progress on the issue of abundance-based management (ABM), by providing further direction for the ABM workgroup related to the various indices of abundance under consideration. The Council also provided input on, among other things, the range of starting points and the types of control rules it would like to see it would like to see in the next discussion paper. Importantly, the State of Alaska, in making the Council’s motion, explicitly reiterated that it supported the development of ABM in a timely manner because it wants to rebalance the parity between the directed halibut fishery and the groundfish fishery, while also reducing bycatch and ensuring a directed fishery in the Bering Sea.

AMCC continues to view ABM as a means of providing a science-based approach to halibut bycatch management in the Bering Sea. The development of this policy has been slower than we expected; nonetheless, we see great value in ensuring that the foundation of the policy—the index of abundance—is well vetted and robust. At the same time, we also recognize that the root of this issue is the prioritization of the groundfish fishery bycatch over the directed fishery, particularly at low levels of halibut abundance. This is an essential element of this action and one that requires a timely resolution, as continued access to the halibut resource is of great cultural and economic significance to the communities in the Bering Sea. These two concepts—a science-based approach to halibut bycatch and reprioritization of the directed halibut fishery—are not at odds and we believe that the Council is on right path to accomplish both.

Central Gulf of Alaska Tanner Crab

After reviewing a discussion paper on existing federal protections for Tanner crab in the central Gulf of Alaska, the Council initiated a follow-up discussion paper that will provide data on flatfish trawl and pot cod fishing effort in specific areas off of Kodiak, as well as observer coverage rates in those areas.

The Tanner crab fishery is an important small-boat fishery for communities throughout Kodiak Island. The State of Alaska has closed the fishery for the last four years due to poor abundance of mature male Tanner crabs. While there are likely many factors involved in the recent low abundance of crab in Kodiak, AMCC supports the Council’s efforts to ensure that it has the data it needs to make informed decisions regarding habitat closures, bycatch limits, and observer coverage.  

North Pacific Observer Program

The Council made reviewed the observer program annual report, which provides a scientific evaluation of the deployment of observers so that the Council can assess whether the objectives of the Observer Program have been met. This review was done in the context of reviewing the 2018 Annual Deployment Plan and the renewal of the partial coverage observer contract. The Council expressed concerned over the levels of funding for the observer program, which have resulted in lower levels of observer coverage. To address these concerns, the Council tasked a subgroup of the Observer Advisory Committee to consider options to address low sampling rates in partial coverage, and a scoping of data concerns and potential solutions related to vessels delivering to tenders. The subgroup will report its findings this fall.

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As we look ahead to the October meeting, several policy priorities are emerging:

Abundance-based management for Bering Sea halibut bycatch

For the third meeting in a row, the Council will seek to make progress on ABM. The discussion paper for the October meeting will likely provide a significant amount of substantive information as the Council looks to begin selecting alternatives and options to move forward.

Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan

The Council will be taking a preliminary look at the proposed fishery ecosystem plan (FEP) for the Bering Sea. AMCC has been actively engaged and in support of the Bering Sea FEP. We believe that the FEP presents an opportunity to build more adaptive and resilient management processes that can better reduce bycatch, conserve important habitat, protect marine food webs, monitor ecosystem health, and evaluate the ecological, social, and economic trade-offs of different management actions. The meeting in October will be an important opportunity to help define the direction of the FEP in a way that can help achieve our shared fishery goals.

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Shannon Carroll is AMCC’s deputy director. 



Order Now: Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon

Date Posted: June 29, 2017       Category: AMCC Blog       Tags: bristol bay sockeye salmon, Catch of the Season
know your fishermen_direct email
The reds are running, which means our most popular seafood offering of the year is here! Catch of the Season, AMCC’s community supported fishery (CSF) is once again thrilled to provide Alaskans with wild sockeye salmon direct from Bristol Bay. This year’s catch will be sustainably harvested and handled with care by the Hill family and Kvichak Fish Company.

 

Shares will be available in 10, 25, and 50 lb. sizes, from $10/lb. Pick-up locations include Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Seward and Palmer-Wasilla.

 

Visit catchoftheseason.org for more details and to order your sockeye.

 

For questions or media inquiries, contact seafood@akmarine.org.


AMCC Announces Transition of Executive Director & Launch of Search Process

Date Posted: June 26, 2017       Category: AMCC Blog

From Jon Zuck, Board Chair of Alaska Marine Conservation Council

Click here for the Executive Director Job Announcement

The Board of Directors of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council announces the pending departure of long-time Executive Director (ED), Kelly Harrell from the organization in October.  After seven years at the helm of AMCC as the ED and over twelve years on staff with the organization, Kelly is expanding her professional horizons. She will start a position with Ecotrust based in Anchorage as the Director of Fisheries and Coastal Communities.

Kelly’s tenure with AMCC as ED has been one of growth, expansion of programs, successes and many accomplishments.  Results during this time period that were achieved thanks to the support and partnerships from people like you include:

  • Helping to lead a coalition that succeeded in securing permanent protection for Bristol Bay from offshore oil and gas drilling (protection that was not unraveled by recent Trump administration actions);
  • Transforming Catch of the Season into a successful social enterprise that brings seafood caught by Alaskans to Alaskans, and is based on a robust business model that was a winner in the international Fish 2.0 competition;
  • Building an impressive staff team and growing a respected and effective presence for AMCC in the federal fisheries management process;
  • Steadily diversifying AMCC’s revenue and increasing the organization’s budget by more than 100% in the last 5 years;
  • Creating signature programs like the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and developing national legislation to authorize a Young Fishermen’s Development Program to provide training and education for the next generation;
  • Gaining recognition for our contributions by receiving the Alaska Conservation Foundation 2016 Lowell Thomas, Jr. Award for Outstanding Achievements, and being noted as “Best Fish Advocate” and “Best Go-To-Bat-For-Fishermen” by Alaska fisheries journalist, Laine Welch;
  • Catalyzing the movement and statewide interest towards practical and informed solutions to keep fishing opportunities in our coastal communities;
  • Fostering smart solutions to bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea that consider the needs of local communities and long-term conservation;
  • Helping to build a national coalition of small-scale fishermen ready to defend the Magnuson-Stevens Act through the Fishing Communities Coalition;
  • Advancing an ecosystem-based approach to management in the North Pacific—one that addresses fishing impacts, supports inclusive decision-making and considers the effects of climate change;
  • Supporting research, action, and engagement on the impacts of ocean acidification on Alaska’s fisheries and fishing communities;
  • Growing the role of fisheries in the food movement through partnerships with organizations like the Alaska Food Policy Council and LocalCatch.org.

We are all very proud of these accomplishments.  Kelly helped guide AMCC through difficult times and a national recession to an organization that is financially stable and an effective advocate for our coastal communities and working waterfronts.

This is a great opportunity for Kelly to continue to launch her career forward and carry with her the successes of the past 7 years and the name of AMCC.  We wish her well.

This is also a great opportunity for AMCC to hire a new Executive Director who meets the current needs of the organization and who will carry forward and build on these successes. The coming months will be a time of leadership transition for AMCC and more growth for the organization.

Kelly will continue working in her current capacity for roughly 4 months and will help in the search, training and transition of her replacement.  During this time and after completion of the leadership transition, AMCC, its membership and seasoned staff will continue as before with programmatic work and continue to achieve great results.

A far-reaching search for Kelly’s replacement at AMCC will immediately commence.  Please see the following job posting and distribute it far and wide to those who may be interested. We thank you so much for your support of AMCC.

Sincerely,

Jon Zuck, AMCC Board Chair

 

A Letter from Kelly Harrell, Executive Director on Departure from AMCC

Dear friends and partners of AMCC,

It is with a deep sense of gratitude and optimism for the future that I recently submitted my letter of resignation to the AMCC Board of Directors. After 12 amazing years with AMCC, I will be leaving the organization as of October 15th to transition into a new role. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with so many of you to help guide AMCC into a new era, and am confident in the strength of the organization today. The AMCC staff team is extremely talented and experienced, and our programmatic work will continue unimpeded under the tremendous leadership of Shannon Carroll and Rachel Donkersloot.

The position I have accepted with Ecotrust as Director of Fisheries and Coastal Communities represents a major opportunity to generate impact on issues important to us all. In this new role, I will help create a fresh vision for the organization’s fisheries program and am excited to engage on a larger geographic scale with communities from Alaska to California. I will continue to be based in Anchorage with travel to the Ecotrust main office in Portland, and to other coastal communities. I hope that through the Community Fisheries Network, and in other capacities, we will build on the long history of collaboration between Ecotrust, fishing organizations, and fishing communities including in Alaska.

I am deeply committed to working with the AMCC Board of Directors to ensure a successful transition and find an excellent replacement. Please know that even though I am changing roles, my passion and support for AMCC, and for healthy fisheries and coastal communities is not diminished, and I look forward to staying connected and working with you all in my new capacity.

Please do not hesitate to contact myself or Board Chair, Jon Zuck at director@akmarine.org , with any questions you may have about the transition, or to pass along any ideas for stellar candidates.

Sincerely,

Kelly Harrell

Kelly@akmarine.org



Young Fishermen’s Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2017

Young Fishermen’s Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

Initiative Gains Momentum as Senators Sullivan (AK), Murkowski (AK), Markey (MA) & Cantwell (WA) Champion Effort to Assist Next Generation of Commercial Fishermen

Washington, DC – The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) today applauded Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for cosponsoring the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (S.1323). The bipartisan and bicoastal bill, a top FCC priority, would give fishing communities a needed boost by addressing steep and growing obstacles – including high cost of entry and limited entry-level opportunities – facing the next generation of America’s commercial fishermen.

“The growing bipartisan momentum behind this bill is very encouraging and shows that leaders in both parties understand that fishermen in today’s world need to know a lot more than simply how to fish,” says John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “We appreciate Senator Markey’s leadership in getting this program off the ground because it will give the next generation of fishermen training in fisheries management, business planning and market development tools they’ll need to make a good living bringing sustainable seafood to Americans.”

The Senate legislation, which aligns closely with a House version introduced in April by U.S.Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA), would launch the first coordinated, nationwide effort to train, educate and assist the next generation of commercial fishermen, providing grants of up to $200,000 (totaling $2 million annually) through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program.

“As one of those dependent on the long-term success of our working waterfronts, I’m very grateful to Senators Sullivan and Murkowski for supporting legislation that recognizes the challenges today’s fishermen face,” said Hannah Heimbuch, an Alaska commercial fisherman who also works for Alaska Marine Conservation Council. “By supporting independent fishermen with this action, we have an opportunity to bolster American food security and the health of coastal communities.”

The bill is modeled after the USDA’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is credited with preparing hundreds of young farmers and ranchers for rewarding careers in agriculture. Young fishermen representing FCC members from every U.S. coast recently traveled to Washington, DC to urge legislators to support the initiative.

“Fishing employs more Alaskans than any other industry in the state, but high barriers and costs remain for newer generations attempting to fill the ranks of this vital sector of our economy,” said Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). “This legislation will coalesce regional efforts to lower these barriers through new grants, training opportunities and an apprenticeship program that will help harness the experience of seasoned fishermen. Replenishing the stocks of qualified stewards of our fisheries will help ensure Alaska remains the superpower of seafood.”

“For centuries, fishing has been at the heart of coastal communities in Massachusetts, but it is an increasingly challenging one for new fishermen to join,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). “This legislation will help make sure that our fishing industry continues to attract future generations of fishermen. These training programs will help young men and women be able to push off the dock into new careers and make vital economic contributions to their communities.”

About the Young Fishermen’s Development Act

Founded in 1994, Alaska Marine Conservation Council is a community-based, nonprofit organization committed to protecting the long-term health of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and sustaining the working waterfronts of our state’s coastal communities. Our members include fishermen, subsistence harvesters, marine scientists, business owners, conservationists, families, and others who care deeply about Alaska’s oceans.

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Why We Support Regional Fisheries Trusts

By Rachel Donkersloot & Shannon Carroll

Genetic diversity, life history and age structure are important attributes of healthy fisheries. For example, we know that life history factors, including changes in population size structure or species composition, and recruitment variability affect the ecological sustainability of fisheries. Same goes for spatial factors such as a reduction in the geographic range of a fish population or the loss of a subpopulation.

But fisheries are not just ecological systems. Fisheries are socioecological systems and attributes of diversity, history and age structure are important dimensions to consider in social and cultural contexts as well.

rft blog_quote_2Weak recruitments into commercial fisheries in recent decades, termed the graying of the fleet, paired with dramatic shifts in the spatial distribution of fishing benefits and ownership rights, threaten the social and cultural sustainability of Alaska fisheries and fishing communities.

Today, more than three-quarters of Bristol Bay salmon permits are held by nonlocals. Kodiak’s Alutiiq villages have suffered an 84% decrease in the number of young people owning state fishing permits, and a 67% decrease in the number of state permits overall. In the southeast villages of Angoon, Hoonah, Hydaburg, and Kake, the number of young people owning state permits dropped sharply from 131 to only 17 between 1985-2013. These shifts have profound consequences for the health and well-being of Alaska fishery systems.

There is a lot of talk about Alaska’s graying fleet today. A central concern is how the future succession of fishery access rights (i.e., permits, quota) will exacerbate the already high levels of loss experienced in Alaska’s fishing communities. These concerns are well founded but it is worth remembering that our aging fleet is, at this moment, an incredible asset to the industry and our communities.

Alaska’s long-time fishermen serve as repositories of wisdom and much needed mentors. These fishermen are integral to intergenerational learning and ensuring multigenerational connections to place, culture and livelihood. The experiences and insights of veteran community-based fishermen are among the many tools that the next generation needs to be successful. This transfer of local and fishing knowledge, values and practices requires more than a willingness to ‘pass down’ knowledge. This transfer hinges on whether the next generation of fishermen has actual opportunity to enter into the commercial fishing industry and become owner-operators.

AMCC has been at the forefront of efforts to support the next generation of Alaska commercial fishermen. Through research on the graying of the fleet, national legislation such as the Young Fishermen’s Development Program, our active participation at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and programs like the Young Fishing Fellows Program and Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, we are dedicated to developing solutions to ensure the socioecological health of our fisheries.

rft blog_quoteAs part of this effort, we have been watching and weighing in on HB 188, legislation that would enable the creation of Regional Fisheries Trusts in Alaska. AMCC supports HB 188, and the Regional Fisheries Trust concept, because it is a tool that will help ensure that the life history and age structure of Alaska fisheries remains balanced and diverse.

These regional trusts are highly controlled and will provide a path to local and independent ownership for Alaska residents; as a result, they will stem the outmigration of permits from our coastal communities. This is not an untested idea. Other fishing regions, including Maine, Massachusetts, Newfoundland and Norway have created similar tools that anchor access rights in fishing communities to bolster local economies and support new and rural fishermen in overcoming the sometimes impassable barriers to entry into commercial fisheries. 

Regional Fisheries Trusts will not single handedly solve the problems affecting our fisheries and communities, but it is an important part of the suite of solutions that Alaska needs to be advancing. Trusts recreate the opportunity (e.g., diversity, history and structure) that is fundamental to the health of our fishing communities and help to recapture some of the benefits currently leaving Alaska in the form of rights, income and livelihood.    

HB 188 was read across the House floor on March 20, 2017. You can read the full bill here.

This post was inspired by recent conversations on a number of worthwhile texts, including Mountain in the Clouds by Bruce Brown, Poe et al. 2013, Pitcher et al. 2013 and several research articles authored by Courtney Carothers.

Rachel Donkersloot is AMCC’s Working Waterfronts program director. Shannon Carroll is AMCC’s fisheries policy director. 



Spring Catch Available Now: Halibut, Spot Prawns, & Salmon Bites

Date Posted: April 24, 2017       Category: AMCC Blog       Tags: Catch of the Season, community supported fishery, Local Seafood

Happy spring local seafood lovers! We are excited to announce that a tasty and fresh spring lineup is ready for you to place your order, fill your freezer, and liven up your dinner parties as the Alaskan days get longer.

Delectable halibut from Homer that is making its first appearance as part of our community supported fishery. A limited supply of mouth-watering, pot-caught Prince William Sound spot prawns are also back on the menu. New to the mix is a fabulous new product sure to be a favorite at lunchtime or for camping trips: Dear North,™ Salmon Bites, created by new Alaskan native-owned company based in Juneau and most recently a winner of the 2017 Alaska Symphony of Seafood!

Click here for full details. Order by Friday, May 19th!

 

 



Member Spotlight: Erica Madison

Date Posted: April 23, 2017       Category: AMCC Blog       Tags: Fisheries Access, Fisheries Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Erica Madison is a first-generation commercial fisherman, and owner of Madison’s Salmon Co. An Alaska resident for 20 years, Erica spent 10 years working in the marine ecology field before making the switch to commercial fishing several years ago. 

Tell us about your connection to the ocean and Alaska’s wild fisheries. 

I am a Bristol Bay fisherman. I set-net on the Naknek and Kvichak Rivers. I have a set-net permit and have been connected to this fishery for three years.

e-news_april_erica madisonWhy do you choose to support AMCC? 

I believe in the promotion of healthy sustainable fisheries. I also want to give support to the communities behind those fisheries and that is what the AMCC does. It is a grassroots organization that is not just looking at the fish, they want the fisherman, culture and ocean to be healthy. As a scientist I found that there was too much “species specific” focus. If you want to make something last, you have to take in all of the parts and pieces. If I as a fisherman can be a part of healthy salmon in the future, then I am on board.

What part of AMCC’s work interests you the most?

AMCC has a lot of great work going on this year. With the upcoming season about to be in swing I am the most excited about the Working Waterfronts project, specifically putting in place a connection between local fisherman and their community. I myself am working with a sea-to-table approach by direct marketing my salmon through Madison Salmon Co. I take pride in knowing that my fish are well taken care of and that locals will know exactly where their fish came from.

What do you love most about fishing?

I was drawn to fisheries because of my at-sea work in the marine sciences. I would see fishermen from afar as I was counting birds and staring at fish monitors and I always thought, I want to work for myself with a species I understand from start to finish. Fishing lets you connect not only to the species you’re working on but also the ecosystem it originates from and the community it directly affects. 

What’s happening in the small boat commercial fishing industry that is exciting or encouraging? 

It is encouraging to see people take ownership of their oceans and rivers again. Closing down mining projects or damn projects that directly affect salmon is a giant triumph for the salmon. If we as as a fleet of small boat commercial fisherman can come together to protect ecosystems, I believe we can have power in other conservation efforts as well.

e-news_april_erica madison_2What do you see as the biggest threat to Alaska’s small-boat commercial fisherman?

I find it scary when I reach out to my friends in the lower 48 and they tell me about cheap “natural” salmon they buy at the grocery store. There is not enough education about where our food comes from, and that leaves the consumer without information about what they are getting. The commercialization of farmed fish is not not only a threat because it steals market share, it also poses genetic threat to wild salmon stocks and spreads disease.

What do you love most about living in Alaska, or in your community?

I live in so many different places in Alaska that I sometimes fear I will lose my community or feeling of community, but Alaska’s great because we take in wanderers, seasonals, and newcomers and treat them like family. After my commercial season last year, I met a woman named Kate Taylor who is an accomplished guide in Bristol Bay and runs her own business Frigate Travel. She took me under her wing and taught me how to fly fish. We talked conservation of headwaters and ways to protect the fishery. She even took a day to come out and learn all about commercial fishing and cheer me on in my work. That right there is community.

Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?

I feel so lucky to have seen Alaska’s waters so thoroughly when I was doing marine research. I also have a passion for traveling over land, and at some point I will make it from Anchorage to Naknek, hopefully on skis. Connecting two places by foot is pretty special.


Fish 2.0 Business Plan Competition Seeks Participants

Date Posted: April 22, 2017       Category: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, community supported fishery

The Fish 2.0 2017 Competition has launched! This is a unique opportunity for businesses and investors to come together and continue building partnerships and momentum in the sustainable seafood sector.

12243169_10153737089283699_5950468303603888604_n

AMCC executive director Kelly Harrell pitches the Alaska Community Seafood Hub in 2015.

AMCC was a winner in the 2015 Fish 2.0 international business plan competition for our vision for the Alaska Community Seafood Hub. The competition had an array of positive impacts on our organization and seafood sales program that we are continuing to grow and working to rebrand. Seafood entrepreneurs who are seeking to improve their business model, gain financial support and develop industry connections are encouraged to participate in this year’s competition!

This recent “Story of Impact” reveals how AMCC inspired the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust to investigate opportunities for a seafood hub through Fish 2.0 in 2015.

The online entry deadline for the 2017 competition is quickly approaching on April 29th. There are six regional tracks in this year’s competition. Alaskan businesses can compete in the West Coast regional track thanks to support from the Rasmuson Foundation. This year’s competition also features a ‘Supply Chain Innovation’ thematic track that community supported fisheries and other values-based seafood businesses should consider.

Are you an Alaska-based company interested in competing in Fish 2.0? You’re invited to contact AMCC’s Executive Director, Kelly Harrell at kelly@akmarine.org about her experience. Full details about the competition can be found here



ComFish Highlights Value of Fishermen Engagement

Date Posted: April 21, 2017       Category: AMCC Blog       Tags: Federal Fisheries Policy, Ocean Acidification, Working Waterfronts

By AMCC Staff

Our team recently traveled to ComFish 2017 in Kodiak. Hannah Heimbuch and Theresa Peterson reflect on opportunities for fishermen to become more engaged in key issues affecting their businesses.

Stakeholder engagement

As our communities and fisheries evolve, the work of fishing has developed in conference rooms as much as over water. Intricate management and policy processes—aimed at shaping dynamic and sustainable harvests—are designed to include input from stakeholders. Even so, the demands on deck often supersede a trip to a meeting or writing a letter, and the relatively complex process can serve as a barrier to those already working full time to make their businesses run.

Alaska Marine Conservation Council has maintained a strong focus on stakeholder engagement at multiple levels of policy processes, encouraging fishery dependent community members to engage where and when they can. This was most recently reflected at ComFish 2017 in Kodiak, where AMCC hosted Dock to Conference Room, a panel discussion focusing on opportunities for stakeholder engagement.

Presenters included Theresa Peterson, a North Pacific Fishery Management Council member; Sue Jeffrey, an Alaska Board of Fisheries member; Natasha Hayden of the Native Village of Afognak; and Bruce Schaectler from the Kodiak Seiners Association. These individuals hail from a multitude of management bodies as well as groups representing unique stakeholders in our marine ecosystem. They discussed the diversity of opportunities to be involved in the decisions that shape the resources we rely on, from joining your local gear group or regularly tracking fishery news, to providing public comment on vital decisions or building community momentum around a change you’d like to see in your fishery or waterfront. 

They also discussed dynamics of current engagement. Hayden described the value of strong mentors and learning opportunities, as well as a serious need for more young stakeholders at the table. The time to work with and learn from your mentors is now, she said, before the weight of management decisions rest squarely on the next generation.

Ocean acidification 

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Dr. Bob Foy answers questions about ocean acidification from fishermen in Kodiak.

AMCC had another opportunity to set engagement in motion during ComFish, through a fishermen round table discussion on ocean acidification. Dr. Bob Foy hosted a dynamic two-hour conversation with community members at the Fisheries Science Center. This dialogue dove into the complexity of OA research and impacts, and explored support for multi-faceted ways to tackle essential monitoring as well as the funding and engagement it requires. “If we don’t monitor ocean acidification, we won’t know until it’s too late,” Foy said.

Though OA issues and their potential impact on Alaska’s marine resources become more concerning all the time, funding streams for programs that collect this baseline data are often unstable. AMCC continues to engage with fishing communities on OA issues, recognizing their role in communicating the importance of OA science and the adaptability it can afford sensitive coastal economies.

This conversation demonstrated the depth of interest from fishermen on OA, including how they can be effective in better understanding this issue. Participating in citizen science programs and advocating for research funding are two good places to start. 

To stay current on ocean acidification news and happenings in Alaska, join the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network (see “Subscribe to List Serv” at the bottom right hand corner of the home page). 



Bill to Establish National Young Fishermen’s Program Introduced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 13, 2017

Bill to Establish National Young Fishermen’s Program Introduced

Initiative Gains Momentum as Reps. Young and Moulton Sponsor Legislation to Empower Next Generation of Commercial Fishermen

Washington, DC – Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) have introduced the Young Fishermen’s Development Act of 2017 (H.R. 2079), a bill that would establish the first national program to support young men and women entering the commercial fishing industry. The bipartisan, bicoastal legislation, was introduced on April 6 and would provide grants of up to $200,000 (totaling $2 million annually) through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program. H.R. 2079 marks a big step forward in the Fishing Communities Coalition’s (FCC) push to launch the first coordinated, nationwide effort to train, educate and assist the next generation of commercial fishermen. Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), a member organization of the FCC, has played an integral role in shaping this important legislation and generating diverse support from fishing communities and leaders.

“Alaskans understand that coastal communities rely on strong fisheries and fishermen to thrive,” said Alaska fisherman Hannah Heimbuch, AMCC staff and coordinator of the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network. “This is an excellent opportunity to work with our nation’s leaders to nurture future generations of commercial fishermen, empowering them to be capable business owners, strong community leaders, and providers of sustainably harvested American seafood.”

Despite daunting challenges that have made it harder than ever for young men and women to start a career in commercial fishing—including the high cost of entry, financial risks and limited entry-level opportunities—there is not a single federal program dedicated to training, educating and assisting young people starting their careers in commercial fishing. AMCC recognizes that this is a vital part of supporting the healthy future of coastal communities, families, and the food and opportunity they provide. The legislation introduced this week is modeled after the USDA’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is credited with preparing hundreds of young farmers and ranchers for rewarding careers in agriculture.

“Congressman Young has long been a champion of Alaska’s fishermen, and we thank him for his strong leadership on this vital issue,” said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “Empowering the next generation of young fishermen is essential to economic opportunity, food security and our entire way of life.”

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed initial support for the legislation, as dozens of FCC members, including commercial fishermen from New England, Alaska, California and the Gulf Coast have met with them to promote this and other priorities of small-boat community-based commercial fishermen.

“This innovative new program is only one effort to preserve fishing heritage and encourage new participation in the industry,” said Young. “Young commercial fishermen are facing bigger challenges than ever before – new barriers to entry, limited training opportunities and a lack of support. This legislation is about supporting the livelihoods of fishing communities in Alaska and across the nation. I’m proud to stand with our young fishermen by introducing this important piece of legislation.”

“The fishing industry is vital to the Sixth District and to our entire region, but we’re at a crossroads,” said Moulton. “This legislation will help to sustain the fishing industry by ensuring that our young people not only have a future in fishing, but are also empowered with the training and resources necessary to thrive in the 21st-century economy. I’m grateful to Congressman Young for his collaboration on this bill and broader efforts to support our young fishermen.”

In addition to building congressional support, the Fishing Communities Coalition and its member organizations intend to meet with representatives from the Trump administration to seek support for the program.

Founded in 1994, Alaska Marine Conservation Council is a community-based, nonprofit organization committed to protecting the long-term health of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and sustaining the working waterfronts of our state’s coastal communities. Our members include fishermen, subsistence harvesters, marine scientists, business owners, conservationists, families, and others who care deeply about Alaska’s oceans.

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